The people have had their say. The lichen voted as the best provincial representative grows close to our coastline and has a colour as pretty as the ocean that washes our shores.
In addition to turning a beautiful deep blue when wet, the distinctive blue felt lichen (Pectenia plumbea) combines a thick gray scalloped body (thallus) topped with red-brown fruiting bodies, which rest on a thick blue-black fungal mat.
It's the only species of the genus known from North America. In Canada this lichen has been found only in the Atlantic region and is rare in the northeastern United States. Its main population is found in Nova Scotia, where it has been recorded from over 425 sites.
You can find this lichen in humid low-lying areas where mature red maples flourish, in swamps, near rivers or lakes, or in upland hardwood stands not far from the coast.
You may also find it on mature sugar maples, ash, yellow birch, poplar or eastern cedar. There's even one on a huge old maple in Shelburne County in someone's front yard, not far from the water.
Over 565 people responded to the Nova Scotia lichen poll, and organizers say they are grateful for “all the enthusiastic input.”
Meanwhile, New Brunswick has chosen the Beard lichen (Usnea longissimi) and Newfoundland has chosen the Newfoundland reindeer lichen (Cladonia terra-novae). No word yet on PEI's choice.
Each province will submit its chosen species to the Museum of Nature in Ottawa, where a paper will be published about all of them.